Step into my imagination, if you will. Our eyes meet across a crowded internet. I motion to the balcony, and we both edge through the crowd and find each other again at a dark green curtain. I draw it aside, and we walk out onto a small area with wrought iron railing and a table and two chairs. The city spreads out below us, spots of light here and there. In the distance, a crescent moon is reflected in the still summer ocean. On the table is a tea service, or a jug of coffee, or perhaps just some water. We smile at each other and sit.
So, I say, as I pour the tea/coffee/water. What brings you here?
Well, you reply, I’m a long time follower/I searched for “Christopher Pyne is stupid”/got lost on my way to find porn.
Ah, I say. Understandable.
There’s a pause. Not an uncomfortable silence, per se. Just a silence.
So, you say, picking up your cup/mug/glass. What have you been up to?
Well, I reply, I’ve been freelancing a bit, and working at my editing job. Planting spring and summer veggies, trying to keep up with all the washing and cooking, that kind of thing. Writing the second draft of my novel. Oh, and I’ve also been writing poetry.
Poetry? you laugh. Isn’t that rather pretentious and immature?
Well, I say, not sure what sort of response you’re after. It can be. But sometimes, I think poetry can say the otherwise unsaid. It traverses the chasm between thought and word. Wouldn’t you agree?
Not really, you reply.
There’s another silence.
Anyway, I say, I’ve put together a chapbook of poems. I’ve called it ‘The Pretend Parent.’
You nod, indicating I should go on.
I decided to self-publish it, and donate some of the proceeds to an organisation called ‘beyond blue.’
Something to do with art? you ask. Or perhaps something to do with Hume?
Ha, good one, I reply. No, neither of those. beyond blue is an organisation which promotes education about mental illness, in particular, depression and anxiety. I found life after the birth of each of my Offspring could be quite hard, at times. I suffered with some depression and anxiety, both during the pregnancies and in the months afterwards.
I’m sorry to hear that, you say.
Thank you, I say, raising my cup/mug/glass. Anyway, I wanted my poetry to be a celebration of parenting but also, I wanted to note how much it can really put you through the wringer. And how it’s OK to talk about how hard you find it, on an emotional level. We often talk about the logistics of it—how to fit in work or social life or time with your partner, or (heaven forbid) time for yourself. But I don’t think I was ready for how much it would change my identity as a person. Or how it would change how I related to the world.
Fair enough, you say. So you’re promoting it here on your blog, hoping those who read this will buy it?
Well, I suppose, I reply. That, or help me to get the word out.
Is that ethical?
I think for a moment.
Well, it IS my blog, I say. And I’ve discussed mental health a fair bit before. I’d like to think that it fits in with what I’ve said: that we need to talk about it openly. That people suffer in silence, because of the judgement we tend to have when it comes to what we expect from people. What we expect when you have a child, and how ‘you cope’ with that. There is a fear that admitting we aren’t OK will mean our children are taken away. Of course that’s not the case, now, but I think there are enough horror stories and urban myths, that people—especially women—who are already in a fragile state, believe them. And then they don’t ask for help, and it can have awful consequences. I want that to change.
So you’re happy asking your followers for money, you say.
Well, I say, I’m not asking them for money. I’m directing them to my poems, and I’m raising money for an organisation which helped me. For every one hundred chapbooks I sell, I’ll be donating $50 to beyond blue. And I won’t be sad or disappointed or upset if none of them buys the chapbook. But I’m sharing something that’s important to me, just like I share my thoughts every week. And so I’ll ask them to share their thoughts about it, and maybe share the link if they feel that way inclined. No pressure.
Ha. Sure, you reply.
No, really! I say, taking another sip of my tea. This is just a way of showing you what I’ve been doing, and hoping that you’ll think it’s worth reading or sharing. That’s all, really.
There’s another short pause.
Well, you say, draining the last of the coffee/tea/water, it was good to talk to meet you. Good luck with the chapbook.
Thanks! I say.
I guess I’ll head off, then, you say, standing up. I have all these other tabs to read…
I understand, I say. I really appreciate your time.
You smile, and nod, and disappear through the dark green curtain. I sit on the balcony for a while longer. It’s quiet here, on the edge between the internet and the world, and quiet is always hard to find, these days. I sit and drink tea, and feel a soft sense of calm.